The last time Mitch Marner remembers attending a Maple Leafs game as a fan, Mats Sundin returned to Toronto’s Air Canada Centre as a Vancouver Canuck.
More than seven years later, Sundin was back to see his No. 13 raised to the rafters, and Marner was there, too, scoring his first NHL goal to help Toronto roll over the Boston Bruins 4-1 for their first win of the season on Saturday night.
Marner got his first goal in only his second game, joined on the score sheet by fellow rookie and Toronto native Connor Brown. Their efforts came on the heels of Auston Matthews’ historic debut, when he became the first player in the modern NHL to score four goals in his first game.
Photo: The Canadian Press via AP
“It’s a lot of excitement and obviously there’s going to be [a] learning curve and growing pains throughout the way, but they’ve been playing great so far,” teammate James van Riemsdyk said of the youths.
Brown and Marner opened the scoring about 10 minutes apart, landing the Leafs in the record books once more. Toronto became the first team since expansion in 1967-1968 to have rookies combine for the first six goals to start a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Brown had the game’s first goal after barely two minutes, joined shortly after by 19-year-old Marner and then Van Riemsdyk a few minutes after that.
The fourth overall pick in last year’s draft, Marner took a pass from Tyler Bozak just outside the Boston blue line, gained the offensive zone with space and fired a shot far-side past goaltender Anton Khudobin.
A native of nearby Thornhill, Ontario, Marner followed with an exuberant celebration.
“To finally be playing in front of these fans for real, it’s pretty crazy,” Marner said. “And for the first one to go in in front of them, it’s kind of sweet.”
Outside of Matthews, Marner was perhaps Toronto’s most dangerous player in a season-opening overtime loss to Ottawa on Wednesday. He had six shots in the 5-4 overtime defeat, following that up with a goal and four more shots in 15-plus minutes against the Bruins on Saturday.
He has shown a knack for getting behind the opposition’s defense, finding a seam and some space for his first goal on Saturday.
“That’s just good anticipation and good smarts where he can pick his spots to use his speed to get himself in those situations,” Van Riemsdyk said.
Marner said he would give the puck from his first goal to his parents.
Anton Khudobin allowed four goals on 20 shots for Boston. David Pastrnak scored his third goal in two games this season.
“Overall, not a good enough effort on our part, and at the end of the night, you don’t deserve the win,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said.
The worst team in the NHL last season, the Leafs have quickly shown themselves to be a much faster and highly skilled entity in the early days of this season, led by Marner, Matthews and 20-year-old William Nylander.
However, that youth often shows itself in less effective ways, including a messy second period in which Toronto’s sloppiness with the puck led to chances and sustained offensive zone time for Boston.
“I’d like us to obviously take better care of the puck and so we’ll learn how to do that,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said.
Frederik Andersen gave up only one goal on 25 shots following his wobbly five-goal outing in Wednesday’s season opener.
Matthews was quiet on Saturday after his unparalleled showing earlier in the week. He was held point-less and finished with only two shots in nearly 17 minutes.
In other results, it was:
‧ Penguins 3, Ducks 2
‧ Blackhawks 5, Predators 3
‧ Capitals 2, Islanders 1
‧ Sharks 3, Blue Jackets 2
‧ Blues 3, Rangers 2
‧ Panthers 4, Red Wings 1
‧ Avalanche 6, Stars 5
‧ Lightning 3, Devils 2
‧ Wild 4, Jets 3
‧ Coyotes 4, Flyers 3, OT
‧ Senators 4, Canadiens 3
‧ Canucks 2, Flames 1, OT
Taiwan national team manager Henry Vom on Sunday had a successful debut in charge of Taichung Futuro, winning 3-2 against league leaders Taipower with a goal deep in stoppage-time, which combined with the results from the other matches saw the gaps close at the top of the Taiwan Football Premier League table. Besides the big win for Futuro, Hang Yuan edged Taitung 1-0, Taiwan Steel dominated National Taiwan University of Sport 4-1 and the Red Lions held Ming Chuan University to a 1-1 draw. Vom took over Futuro after previous coach Toshiaki Imai returned home to Japan. Imai, who also managed the national
The NBA said was re-evaluating its training program in China following allegations of abuse of young players by local staff and harassment of foreign staffers at a facility in Xinjiang. The comments come after a report by ESPN that quoted unnamed American coaches as saying that Chinese coaches hit young players. One American coach who worked at a camp in Xinjiang complained of harassment by local police, the sports network said. “The allegations in the ESPN article are disturbing,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said in an e-mail statement on Thursday. “We ended our involvement with the basketball academy in Xinjiang in June
Coming from the business world, New York Liberty owner Joe Tsai (蔡崇信) did not understand why his WNBA franchise did not have a chief executive officer similar to the team’s NBA counterpart the Brooklyn Nets, which Tsai also owns. For Tsai, it was about equality, so he did something about it. The 56-year-old Taipei-born billionaire businessman and philanthropist promoted Keia Clarke to the position last week — making her the first chief executive officer in the team’s history. The WNBA veteran became the third black woman to currently be in charge of a franchise in the league, joining Los Angeles Sparks president
LEAVING IT LATE: Rakuten added late runs last night to add to wins on Wednesday against the Brothers and the Lions on Friday that went down to the last batter The Rakuten Monkeys rallied to post three late runs for another close win, prevailing 5-3 over the Uni-President Lions yesterday as Taiwan’s second-half CPBL season got started with lower scoring output, but exciting finishes. It was Rakuten’s third win in a row. In two games this week, they seized victory in dramatic fashion with their last at-bat and have drawn level with the CTBC Brothers on top of the table after yesterday’s results, 0.5 games in front of the Fubon Guardians and 1.5 games ahead of the Lions. It was tied at 1-1 early, with Rakuten hosting the Lions at the Taoyuan Intenational